Hey, you

Yeah, you! I’m talking to you. The fact that you’re reading this is awesome. And I mean that in the original meaning of the word – inspiring awe, not just something really cool. You’re my target audience. I always say that I write for myself, but the reason that I write on a blog instead of a journal is because I hope that in writing myself, I will somehow be able to touch another human’s life in some way. Even if it’s a slight nudge that doesn’t really affect you, I’ve altered the course of your life in some way.

I don’t know you and we could have very little in common, but that’s the magic of a blog! Writing through an electronic platform allows me to connect with you, whoever you are. That inspires awe for me. If you’ve read any of my old posts, you know that I believe that art, be it writing or painting or photography or music, gives us the power to show off how similar and different we are at the same time. It lets us display ourselves and connect with others in ways we never even could begin to think of before. It lets us inspire others to do the same and find themselves in their own art.

I hope that this inspires you just a little bit. That maybe this will make you want to write a blog post of your own or a poem or take a cool picture or write a song and just draw a cool stick figure dude in your notebook. Because if I could have that impact on someone, if I could be indirectly responsible for the creation of something that’s never existed before in the history of time and space, well, that’s awe-inspiring.

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What do I want to do?

I think the reason that college is really tough for me at times is because I want to have clear priorities and completely dedicate myself to one thing or another. The only problem is that there are too many things that I want to do. In a given day, I’m worrying about school, writing, photography, singing, spirituality, friendships and many more things that I can’t even think of right now. I keep reading articles about self-help in hopes that will give me the answers to all of my questions, but there’s not a single article that will save me, but the underlying message in all of them is to focus one specific thing if you want to get good at it.

The thing is, I can’t drop all of these things. Each things is fairly important, and I don’t want to let it go. I might try to do a timelog this week to see where all of my time goes and really get a better idea of what I can do to improve my general use of time. All I know is that I feel the best when I get a lot done, but when I feel shitty it’s because I can’t get a lot done and that same feeling keeps me from getting things done. It’s a vicious cycle.

I can get through this.

Equilibrium

Over the past few weeks, I’ve felt like I’ve moved to an overall better place mentally. My resting state has less anxiety, less sadness and less frustration. In all honesty, I don’t think I’ve been this good in a long time.

Despite this, I know that this isn’t the best state I can be. My emotions are still incredibly volatile. In the span of a few hours, I can go from feeling like I’m on the top of the world, sauntering along to the drumbeats of a joyous Jack Johnson to feeling anxious and hiding under my covers listening to Drake. Of course, the best part of my new state is that this happens less than before, but I just wish I could minimize it further.

In discussion yesterday with my religious group, we got onto the topic of how it may be better to find an equilibrium, and instead of getting too attached to the highs and lows, to focus on an equilibrium of the two and try to stay balanced. That way, it won’t hurt when we fall as much. I’m torn by this concept.

On one hand, this level of equilibrium in my emotions sounds like it would help me to leave myself and become more associated with a higher power as I detach myself from the world. On the other hand, detachment has always been one of the concepts of spirituality that I’ve struggled with. I’ve been a huge advocate of melancholy and sadness in the past because I fell in love with it and the depth and vibrancy of the emotions, especially when they helped me to connect with art. I don’t know if I can completely abandon that part of me that loves to feel so strongly. If we are meant to detach ourselves from everything, why do strong emotions feel so right? Why does sobbing in my bed over breakup feel so real compared to emotionlessness in the face of a small loss?

Peace, Love, Ukulele

This past Friday night, I had the unique opportunity to see the ukulele virtuoso Jake Shimabukuro. As I was walking back from class at the end of the day, I saw that the arts center was selling $10 tickets to see him and decided to go, just for the hell of it.

After 2 hours of watching him jam out, I was speechless. It’s hard to explain what made the concert so special. Individual parts stick out to me, like Jake’s near-constant goofy grin whenever he was playing something that he knew sounded awesome, or when he would headbang to his music as his hands flew back and forth along his strings.

His composition was incredible, especially his ability to capture emotions of what each piece was inspired by. One piece stuck out to me in particular, leaving me on the brink of tears. It was called “Ichigo Ichie,” which is an Japanese idiom referring to the idea that every single time we meet someone, that individual moment is something that will only occur once-in-a-lifetime and thus must be treasured. The piece somehow captures the beauty of each moment we spend with each other. It was difficult to keep myself from tearing up – the emotions were as visible on his face as they were audible in the music.

I was awestruck by every piece, as the tiny four-stringed instrument from Hawai’i filled the air with beautiful vibrations. After ending with a tribute to the recent loss of life with Schubert’s Ave Maria, I had the opportunity meet Jake. My legs were shaking while waiting in the line to get a picture and an autograph. I had loved his music for years and had always felt like I knew him through his music. In the meeting that was less than a minute, I was touched. He didn’t get my name, but I had never met someone so genuine and felt like someone cared for me in such a short time. He truly lived the idea of ichi-go ichi-e.

Beyond his music and just the incredible genuineness he showed in a fleeting moment, Jake Shimabukuro’s entire journey is unique. As someone who fell in love with the ukulele at age 4, Jake never let go of his passion for the instrument, instead allowing it to become his livelihood.

Before Jake, the ukulele was rarely considered a serious instrument. Many just thought of it as a “toy guitar” or a gimmicky beach-style instrument at best. Jake was unaffected, releasing albums and just doing his best to make his best stuff. Eventually he got a big break when a video of him playing went viral.

Jake’s dedication to his craft is inspirational. Nothing in his life stops him from following his love of the ukulele, not even the fact that there had never been a successful touring ukulele player. Each and everyone of us could learn something from him. Each and everyone of us should try to love as Jake does.

On Sickness

As I come back to campus after fall break, I can’t help but think about how different it looks. This isn’t because anything has changed. Nothing has (except for the location of the constant construction). What’s changed is my level of health. I’m sick with some bad cold that can’t really be treated with anything more than rest and time. I am constantly congested, making hearing more difficult. My voice is altered due to the large amount of mucus in my body, so communicating is more energy-intensive, as I must repeat many things I say. Unfortunately, energy isn’t something I have huge supplies of right now since a lot of it goes towards fighting the illness.

In my state, the world appears differently. Everything is a bit more difficult and uncomfortable. Despite this, it all makes me feel… hopeful. If this is the common cold afflicting me, my basic function, my ability to exist as a human being, my view of the world are all being altered by something so small it should be less than insignificant. However, it isn’t. At all. Isn’t it incredible how something as small as a virus can have such power over us?

On this massive planet, could we be like the virus? We are each a single being in 7 billion, but could we have the possibility to change the world as the virus changes us?

Done but not Done.

It’s been nearly a week since I finished my daily writing goal of 100 days that wasn’t really daily and you can look at all of those posts to see what it was all about. In the last couple of days, I’ve been contemplating what to do next. I want to continue writing with a level of regularity, but I doubt I can sustain daily writing in the same form that I was doing with #the100DayProject.

Beyond the difficulty of sustainability, writing daily doesn’t net the best content consistently. Recently, I’ve been trying to comb through everything I wrote through the course of the project and see what some of my best work was. Unfortunately, I found myself thinking that a lot of the work could’ve been significantly better. The time constraint often made me finish a post for the sake of finishing it, leading to less than high quality content. More time would have undoubtedly improved my writing and netted articles that I would be proud of, rather than just saying that it happened. Of course, it’s not like I didn’t write anything that I actually liked. I know for a fact that Chicago Thursday was one of the best pieces of storytelling that I’ve written. However, I just wish that I had written more than just a handful of quality pieces among a sea of mediocrity.

Of course, this is an expectation that isn’t really founded, but I think can be remedied as I improve. My current photography strategy can be compared to my writing strategy from the project. I would write a mass quantity of posts, but they weren’t necessarily good. The removal of the editing step led to the lack of consistent quality among the posts. Of course, if I edited my writing as much I edited my photos, I would be left with maybe 4 to 5 posts from the entire project, after hours upon hours of work.

Just like my photo strategy though, my writing strategy could go for a change. Since I won’t be bound by any difficult self-imposed writing deadline of a day, I will be able to put in a lot more effort into each post, hopefully increasing the quality of each while using a similar level of energy that my previous writing strategy did.

In order to improve the quality, I thought about what went into my best pieces. The main ones that I considered were Chicago Thursday, Why I Love Clothes, Kendrick as Joyce, and “Death in Dignity.”

They were pretty much all over 400 words. This doesn’t seem like a lot, but when a lot of my posts (especially the bad ones) were defined as finished as soon as I hit 270, it’s fairly important. Despite the fact that the length generally led to a better piece, I don’t want to push myself to write when I don’t want to. With those high quality posts, I never paid attention to the word count until I felt like I was finished and found myself astounded by how much I had written so quickly. Certain topics made it easier for me to do this, like music or clothes or experiences, but I hope to be able to learn how to get into that flow regardless of the topic. I know that with enough research, I can gain an immense interest into nearly any topic, so that may become a part of my writing process.

The future of this blog holds longer form pieces that may be reposted to Medium. I own several Moleskine notebooks that may be bequeathed some of the more personal, reflective type of content that was found here before. As I move on to the next chapter of my life, I know reflecting on my life will be vital for my success and believe that it’s a lot easier for me to re-read a notebook than it is my own blog. The malleability of blogs make me likely to start editing it rather than really focusing on the content. The ink in notebook can’t be changed.

Day 100: Done.

I can’t believe it. This is it. After 100 days, I’ve written 100 posts on this blog. This isn’t exactly how Elle Luna or I envisioned it, but that’s okay. Things never turn out the way that they’re expected to. What matters is the fact that I’ve written a hell of a lot of content in the last hundred days. When I began this project, I was bored on a Saturday night and decided to write my first post and synthesize my personal beliefs with a pretty book I read. The next week, I found myself with a ton of homework and was considering giving up, less than a week after I had started.

That action would’ve been super typical of me. I was really used to starting things and giving up on them soon after. However, by giving myself the lax rules of being able to catch up if I missed a day was extremely important. I’ve continued to use that rule a lot, especially today with these 8 posts, but the rule has helped me to stick to this project more than anything else. If I ever felt like I failed for not writing one day, I doubt I would’ve come near to Day 10, let alone 100. It’s been incredible writing so much and seeing my posts get likes and my blog get follows from strangers. It serves as a great ego boost to receive likes, because I know at least one person has read what I’ve said. I want to say thank you to everyone that liked or followed or commented or reblogged any of my posts just because of how much it means to me.

I don’t know what the next steps are for my writing “career” but I do think this was an important part of it. I know I want to continue writing in any way possible, be it in my blog, or pieces on Medium, or maybe for my collegiate newspaper if possible. Whatever path I take, I want to become a better writer and continue to get better. I’m going to keep writing as much as possible and start reading as much as possible to do so. Writing may not be my intended career path, but it continues to be one of the most important things to me.

For now, I’m just happy to be done.